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What Makes an Enterprise Print Environment Secure?

Posted by Julio Garfias on March 18th, 2019

Enterprise print security has become a hot topic over the past couple of years. High-profile malicious data breaches coupled with a growing awareness of the murky data-collection practices of Internet giants has made admins and end users alike aware of how easy it is for their private information to be compromised. That awareness has carried over to the realm of print management, which poses a double security risk: one when the document is in its digital form, and one when it exists as a hard copy.

Unfortunately, awareness of the importance of secure printing isn't the same as actually implementing secure printing and then continuing to practice secure printing. We all know that as individuals we should probably eat healthier food, exercise more and lower our carbon footprint, but even our best intentions don't always get parlayed into action.

It's the same thing with enterprise print security. And, from both technical and practical standpoints, it doesn't help that most print-management solutions make it anything but easy to adopt secure printing across the enterprise.

The Importance of Print Security
Most organizations have some kind of security mechanism to limit access to their workstations. They also take precautions with their data servers, such as implementing end-to-end encryption or tightening firewalls. However, locking down the print infrastructure is often overlooked. Print servers, for example, create a single point of vulnerability for a malicious actor to gain access to sensitive documents, yet many organizations continue to rely on them instead of transitioning to serverless print-management solutions.

Things get even more lax at the actual printer, which is where the document is transformed from ones and zeros to a physical copy. Some estimates put the share of print jobs that are simply abandoned at the printer somewhere in the neighborhood of 20%, and one UK study found that almost half of employees reported seeing confidential documents waiting in the output tray. Even if those statistics were to be halved in your organization, it still indicates the potential for significant risk.

This highlights the need for sensitive print jobs to be protected from the moment the end user initiates the job to the moment that same end user retrieves that job from the printer. But knowing this doesn't eliminate the usual barriers to effective enterprise print security.

How, then, can organizations roll out secure printing in a way that's feasible, comprehensive and cost-effective? And, just as importantly, how can they get their end users to actually use it?

Secure Printing with PrinterLogic
Thanks to its centrally managed direct-IP printing model, PrinterLogic is one of the few print-management solutions, if not the only one, that is capable of eliminating print servers and their associated vulnerabilities while also providing flexible and convenient secure printing functionality across the enterprise.

Our secure pull printing module divides each sensitive print job into two intentional steps. The first is when the end user clicks "Print" as usual. At this point, the job is held in a virtual print queue on the workstation instead of on a centralized server. The second step comes with the release of the sensitive print job to the printer itself. This is done by the end user authenticating and then executing the print job using one of four methods:

  • Badge/card reader: If your printers are equipped with a badge or card reader or if you have a network-enabled card reader, the end user can easily authenticate this way. In government organizations, this can also be a CAC/PIV card.
  • Embedded control panel: PrinterLogic's control panel application can be installed directly on most modern MFDs. Users can then log in via their Active Directory credentials or with a user ID and PIN.
  • Web browser: Any device that has a browser installed—including tablets, mobile phones and even netbooks—can release print jobs through PrinterLogic's web-based portal. You can even set up a browser-enabled mobile device in kiosk mode near the printer for a dedicated release mechanism with minimal overhead.
  • Mobile app release: PrinterLogic now offers an intuitive mobile app for iOS and Android that can be used for secure printing. To view and release their pending secure-printing jobs, all an end user has to do is launch the app on their smartphone.

This range of authentication methods allows organizations to choose the release mechanism that complements their existing print infrastructure—or to select the control panel or mobile app options, both of which require no supplemental hardware at all.

Beyond its ease of implementation from the perspective of print management, PrinterLogic's approach to enterprise print security is appealing and transparent to the end user. The print-and-release process is easy to understand and has almost no impact on the efficiency of the workflow. In fact, end users' ability to release their jobs at any authorized printer, not just a default destination printer, makes secure printing more convenient in cases such as roaming users.

Unlike cumbersome traditional print-management solutions, PrinterLogic helps to bridge the gap between knowing the value of enterprise print security and actually putting secure printing into practice on a regular basis across the entire organization. That shift from intention to action is what truly makes a print environment secure. Try PrinterLogic as a proof of concept in your own environment by downloading a free 30-day trial of our serverless print-management software.

Julio Garfias
Julio Garfias
Julio Garfias is the Product Support Manager at PrinterLogic, where he oversees the company’s post-sales support operations and provides vital product-development feedback based on customer needs. His previous experience includes 10+ years as a product support engineer and help-desk analyst. Julio has Windows Server Administration certifications from Microsoft and is a Certified SAFe 4 Product Owner/Product Manager. He is currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications from Dixie State University.

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